I have previously written about the human microbiome, the flora and fauna living in us that we are just discovering contribute in many ways to our physical and mental functioning.
Below is an excerpt from article about some recent and preliminary explorations of the relationship between autism and human microbiome:
"His parents reluctantly began to
accept that his gut problems might simply be yet another manifestation
of his autism. “We kind of gave up,” says Sharon, Sam’s mother. (Their
names have been changed to protect their privacy.)
Unfortunately, Sam’s experience is common among children with autism. About 40 to 60 percent of these children cope with gastrointestinal (GI) problems,
ranging from frequent abdominal pain and bloating to diarrhea and
constipation. But why and how their distress develops—and what to do
about it—remain a mystery.
Despite their pain, these children’s abdominal tracts generally appear normal, says Emeran Mayer,
the director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress at the University
of California, Los Angeles. In some children, GI problems may result
from stress and anxiety, or emerge as a consequence of behavior. If a
child’s insistence on sameness spills over into eating habits, for
example, she might not consume enough fiber or liquid, and may become
constipated as a result.
It’s also possible that the real culprit
of these digestive symptoms is not human at all. Evidence from the past
decade suggests that GI
problems in some people with autism stem from disruptions in the gut
microbiome—the complex stew of bacteria and other microbes that help to
digest food, make vitamins, and protect against pathogens. Scientists
have found tantalizing clues that the types of microbes that live in the
guts of people with autism differ from those in people without the
far, this research poses more questions than it answers, but the need
for clarity is urgent: Against the advice of experts, and in a desperate
attempt to help their pain-wracked children, some parents are
performing do-it-yourself fecal transplants, overhauling the gut
microbiome by transferring stool (and the intestinal bacteria it
contains) from a healthy donor into a child with autism."
For the rest of this article, with links to other research and sources see: